A drama told from four family member's viewpoints, Lexi Landsman's THE PERFECT COUPLE is an interesting title choice for a book that's about anything but the perfect couple. As the blurb explains, Sarah and Marco Moretti have travelled the world together as part of their joint work as archaeologists. In Florence this time, they are searching for the famous San Gennaro necklace, once thought lost at sea, it's been an obsession of Marco's for many years. Sarah's discovery of the necklace at the site of their dig, late at night, on her own, triggers a series of events that sees the family rapidly unravel and the veneer of perfection wash away.
As the story alternates between each character you're right inside their heads, seeing all of the events from their various viewpoints. After the necklace is found, Sarah and her husband agree to put it in the safe at the dig site, but as Sarah drives home that night, she witnesses Marco kissing another woman, and ends up in a car accident that wipes all memories of recent events. She has no idea why or how, but the necklace has also gone missing, but that's nothing compared to what starts to happen within the family as the search for it heats up.
As with all these sorts of in the character's head styled books, the reader is confronted with some tricky undertakings. In THE PERFECT COUPLE, Marco is obviously far from perfect - in fact he's a bit of a creep, and Sarah seems to play the victim really well. Then there's the deceitful son, and the daughter who is dragged into the mess in the worst possible way. As each narrative viewpoint switches, the reader is forced into the position of trying to decide who is telling the truth, who is believable, who can be supported or barracked for if you like. The other problem with this sort of narrative style is that there can be a feeling of repetition as events are sometimes recounted by more than one person.
It's a brave move by Landsman as it's a tricky undertaking to carry the various viewpoints forward, place the reader into the heads of some complicated and not always sympathetic characters, and keep the momentum of the plot that has that need to consider things from multiple people's points of view. There's also that issue of the cheating husband, and the wife who is seemingly in denial, and seemingly passive about the worst excesses of Marco's behaviour - professional and personal. Needless to say Marco's a prat and frankly it was hard to feel anything much in the way of sympathy or even concern about his precious professional reputation - what with him having staked everything on finding that necklace. Obviously sympathy here is meant to lie with Sarah, who may be a lot stronger than it initially seems, same with the son who is leading his own double life, and has a few barbs to fire at his own father into the bargain.
As with all of these styles of books though, a reader's connection and like or dislike of the novel is going to depend absolutely on a feeling of connection with somebody in this story. You're going to have to spend a bit of time in their heads after all and there's nothing more tricky if you can't stand any of them. It will be interesting to see how THE PERFECT COUPLE is received overall.